2017 Carolina Panthers Offseason Preview
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2016 Season Recap
This season was a dud for Carolina. Many expected them to be contenders, while there were several, too, pegging them to win it all after a 15-1 Super Bowl run in 2015. The complete opposite happened, however. The Panthers ended up losing multiple close games and key players to injuries, resulting to a disappointing 6-10 finish—the worst mark in the NFC South.
Cam Newton, who was the reigning league MVP, was not super at all, passing for just 3,509 yards with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. And rubbing more salt into the wound was his career-low quarterback rating of 54.0.
This offseason will be very crucial times for the Panthers. They have more than enough money—nearly $50 million in cap space—and a high draft pick to answer their needs heading towards the 2017 season.
Top Free Agency Need(s)
Newton’s struggles weren’t solely his fault. He received little-to-almost-zero protection from Carolina’s O-line, getting sacked 36 times (20th-most) in total. That said, the Panthers need to bulk up and get their quarterback better protection. Targeting big, proven bodies like Matt Kalil or Ricky Wagner will be pricey, but then again, Carolina has the spending power to do so.
Top Draft Need(s)
Offensive Tackle. In case things don’t work out in free agency, using the eight overall pick is the next option. And yes, this just goes to show how badly the Panthers need to improve their pass protection.
Running Back. Jonathan Stewart still has some gas left in the tank, but it’s worth noting that he’s struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. He’s yet to play all 16 regular-season games since 2011. It’s probably time to start finding a potential replacement.
Cornerback. Carolina’s secondary became a liability with Josh Norman’s departure to Washington in 2015. The Panthers ranked 29th overall in passing yards allowed (268.2) this season.
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